Austin Clarke’s Critical Neglect Panel
Congress of Humanities Conference
Place: Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
Date: 27 May – 2 June 2017
CFP Deadline: 1 November 2016
This panel calls for a reassessment of Austin Clarke’s writing. While Clarke was one of Canada’s earliest, most prolific, and most awarded writers, scholarship on his work remains scarce. This critical neglect is particularly surprising given his foundational role in Canadian literature; his first short stories predate Frye’s articulation of ‘where is here?’ This neglect has not gone wholly unnoticed: W.J. Keith describes his Clarke’s writing as “characteristically neglected” and Clarke’s biographer, Stella Algoo Baksh argues that there is “a dearth of comprehensive examinations of Clarke’s life and writing.”
This panel therefore invites papers that respond to Clarke’s ‘characteristic neglect’ and reconsider his place in Canadian or Caribbean canons or in the intersections between the two. What unlikely connections are there between Clarke’s work and so-called mainstream Canadian literature? In what ways does Clarke’s work reimagine a Canadian-Caribbean creolization that resists placement within a single tradition? Is the neglect of Clarke’s work indicative of a larger neglect of Black writing in Canada? In what ways did Clarke’s function as a public intellectual shape his literary persona? Does the absence of sustained Clarke criticism identify a structural aporia in the field of Canadian literature more generally?
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